Heat ties NBA Finals by beating Thunder in Game 2
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org June 15, 2012 12:26AM
LeBron James (C) of the Miami Heat goes to the basket against Serge Ibaka (R) and James Harden (L) of the Oklahoma City Thunder during Game 2 of the NBA Finals at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 14, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECKROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages
Heat vs. Thunder
series TIED 1-1
All games on Ch. 7, 1000-AM
G1: at Thunder 105, Heat 94
G2: Heat 100, at Thunder 96
Sunday: at Heat, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: at Heat, 8 p.m.
Thursday: at Heat, 8 p.m.
x-June 24: at Thunder, 7 p.m.
x-June 26: at Thunder, 8 p.m.
Updated: July 16, 2012 6:42AM
OKLAHOMA CITY — You expected a foul? Yeah, right.
The boos from the home crowd rained down on the officials as they left the court after the Miami Heat’s 100-96 victory Thursday against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
But after four years of NBA basketball in this town, the crowd should know one thing by now: If you’re expecting a call against LeBron James — or anybody, really — in the closing seconds, you’re asking for too much.
James got the benefit of the non-call with the Heat ahead 98-96 in the final seconds when he brushed Kevin Durant on a short baseline jumper and hit Russell Westbrook’s arm on a tip attempt in traffic in the lane. James snared the rebound and made his 11th and 12th free throws without a miss with seven seconds left in regulation to end the Thunder’s valiant, desperate comeback from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit and enable the Heat to tie the Finals 1-1 at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday in Miami.
Durant had scored 16 of his 32 points in the final 8:47 as the Thunder rallied from an 82-69 deficit to 98-96 with 12 seconds left. It was then that Derek Fisher inbounded to Durant on the baseline. Durant, who played the final 10:31 with five fouls, turned against James and drove the baseline. But with Chris Bosh stepping into the lane to take a charge, Durant pulled up and fired a shot that hit the front of the rim.
‘‘I think I shot a good shot,’’ Durant said. ‘‘That’s a shot I shoot all the time. I just missed.’’
Was there contact?
‘‘I was just worrying about the shot,’’ he said. ‘‘I really couldn’t tell you. I’ve got to watch the film, I guess.’’
Asked again about contact on the play, Durant wasn’t biting.
‘‘I missed the shot, man,’’ he said.
‘‘[Fisher] did a good job of finding KD on the baseline, and he attacked the basket,’’ Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. ‘‘He missed the shot, unfortuately. That would have been a nice opportunity for us to make that or get to the free-throw line. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the play, and we move on.’’
As Brooks noted, the Thunder lost this game much earlier than the final seconds — like when they fell behind 18-2 in the first quarter.
‘‘That’s one play,’’ Brooks said. ‘‘We have so many other plays that we could have done better to put us in a position to stay closer. I’m not going to get into that. I haven’t in the past, and I’m not going to start now. He didn’t get the call. The bottom line is we have to play aggressive basketball, and we didn’t do that to start the game. The last minute, I won’t even look at that.’’
What started out as a stunning rout when the Heat opened an 18-2 lead in the first quarter eventually turned into great theater in the fourth, when the Thunder finally found a rhythm after struggling the entire game to find a spurt it could build on.
The Thunder trailed 82-69 with nine minutes left before making its move. Durant swished a three-pointer, then drove against Shane Battier and dunked to cut the deficit to 82-74 with 8:20 left. After James missed a floater, James Harden scored on a drive to make it 82-76, and a frantic Thunder crowd could see victory within reach.
But the Heat admirably withstood the challenge, with James (32 points, eight rebounds), Dwyane Wade (24 points, five assists) and Bosh (16 points 15 rebounds) fending off Durant’s final charge.